November 2021 / United Kingdom

November 26 2021

DIT removes 20% more trade barriers to unlock major markets for British business

The United Kingdom has broken down hundreds of trade barriers around the world in the year to April, opening up new opportunities for British businesses, according to new data published   The United Kingdom has broken down hundreds of trade barriers around the world in the year to April, opening up new opportunities for British businesses, according to new data published today [Thursday 25 November]. The Department for International Trade has published statistics showing a total of 217 trade barriers across 74 countries were removed over the 20-21 financial year, representing an increase of almost 20% on the previous 12 months. Trade barriers are regulatory, legislative and administrative measures imposed by other countries that restrict the flow of goods and services. Getting rid of them makes it easier for businesses to trade around the world as we build back better and boost exports. As well as securing new trade agreements, DIT is using its expertise to remove individual barriers wherever British businesses face them and in sectors that matter most to our economy, supporting SMEs and securing access to new and exciting markets. Some of the barriers addressed over this period include:
  • Working with the Jordanian government to open up British food exports worth £32 million, by changing labelling rules that will help our producers to increase sales to a country that imports £2.5bn worth of food annually
  • Unlocking access to finance in Hong Kong to enable UK education providers to build new schools there from early next year
  • Cooperating with Indian counterparts to enable more investment in India’s £4bn insurance market- 74% foreign ownership now allowed, up from 49% - a sector in which the UK has world-class strengths
  • In Colombia, helping British asset managers enter a green investment market worth £835m per year
  • In Bulgaria, supporting UK business to access products to develop cutting-edge technology that will extend the life of vaccines, helping overcome logistical and distribution challenges from the pandemic.

International Trade Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan said:

“As an independent trading nation – the UK is opening up brand new opportunities in major economies around the world. Each and every one of these 217 trade wins are fantastic news for our UK businesses who sell their products abroad – and we will continue to open doors for the many more that will export more in future.

Minister for International Trade Ranil Jayawardena said:

“In the last year, we have been tearing down even more trading barriers than the year before – 20% more, in spite of Covid-19 – which is proof that Global Britain is delivering for our dedicated exporters, supporting local jobs and boosting the economy. “This is just the beginning. We want businesses in every corner of the country to tell us about the barriers they want us to tackle next, so they can focus on what they do best – making world-class products and selling them to the world.” . As part of this continuing work, more recent successes have seen poultry exports allowed into Japan following a series of complex negotiations. Industry estimates predict this will boost the sector by up to £65 million over five years, which is in addition to the 99% tariff-free trade secured when the UK-Japan Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) came into force in October 2020. Pork can also now be exported to Mexico for the first time which means a potential increase in sales of £50 million over the first five years of trade. Businesses facing market access issues can also report barriers online using our first-class digital system and find out information on barriers that are relevant to them. This includes the recently launched Export Support Service to make it easier for British businesses to find help with practical questions about exporting to Europe.   Source: DIT
November 4 2021

Finance Bill 2021-22 published

The Finance Bill 2021-22 was published today (4 November 2021), legislating for tax changes announced by the Chancellor at last week’s Budget

  • The Finance Bill 2021-22 was published today legislating for tax changes announced at the Budget
  • The Bill supports the Budget which will deliver a stronger economy for the British people through driving growth, securing public finances and levelling up employment opportunities
  • Changes taking effect also crack down on tax avoidance and deliver a simpler tax system

It will extend tax reliefs for museums, galleries, theatres and orchestras, implement the new residential property developer tax, and introduce reforms to tonnage tax, among other changes.

Many changes will come into effect for the next tax year starting in April 2022.

Financial Secretary to the Treasury Lucy Frazer said:

This year’s Finance Bill will help us to continue on our mission to deliver a stronger economy for the British people – through stronger growth, jobs and public finances.

The Finance Bill 2021-22 brings forward a number of tax measures from last week’s Budget. The Bill helps support a stronger economy for the British people by helping to deliver stronger public finances, tackling tax avoidance and evasion, and contributing towards a simpler and more sustainable tax system.

It does this through:

  • Reforming the UK’s Tonnage Tax regime to bring more shipping firms to the UK
  • Extending tax reliefs for museums, galleries, theatres and orchestras to 31 March 2024
  • Extending the £1 million Annual Investment Allowance cap by a further 15 months to 31 March 2023, to bring forward investment
  • Implementing the 4% Residential Property Developer Tax on the largest most-profitable residential developers to support building safety remediation
  • Simplifying Basis Period Rules to make it easier for the self-employed and small businesses to claim tax reliefs they are entitled to but often do not take advantage of due to confusing current rules. This, as the OBR concludes, has no effect on the amount of profits taxed.
  • Clamping down on promoters of tax avoidance by reducing the scope for promoters to market tax avoidance schemes, disrupting their activities and supporting people more to steer clear of and leave tax avoidance arrangements
  • Increasing the Normal Minimum Pension Age from 55 to 57, effective from 6 April 2028

The Overview of Tax Legislation and Rates (OOTLAR) document, published at Autumn Budget 2021, confirmed the measures going forward in the Bill.

The Finance Bill 2021-22 had its First Reading in Parliament on Tuesday 2 November and will now follow the normal passage through Parliament.

Further information

Source: HM Treasury
November 9 2021

COVID-19 Pandemic: United Kingdom Updates Policy Towards Supporting Affected Taxpayers and the Economy

On 9 November 2021, HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) updated its tax policy to reflect its latest position on support schemes and policy changes as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as its principles on tax collection, benefits payments, compliance checks and debt activity. Further details are summarized below.

Firstly, in its attempt to guarantee that funds from support schemes, including the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme, reach those in need, while abuse, fraudulent behaviour and mistakes are minimized, HMRC plans to commit more than 1,200 people to recovering money paid out to incorrect and fraudulent claims. Existing measures and practices will be reviewed and will either be retained or removed. Also, HMRC will open more than 30,000 one-to-one enquiries into COVID-19 support scheme claims. These actions are expected to allow the Taxpayer Protection Taskforce to recover GBP 1 billion over the next 2 years.

Secondly, HMRC will strive to make sure taxpayers are supported, while the tax system is protected. This will include recognizing the needs and challenges that businesses and individuals face, providing certainty, interacting with fairness and professionalism with the customers and using administrative arrangements to deliver long-term sustainable solutions.

Thirdly, HMRC will continue to conduct compliance checks informed by taxpayers' individual circumstances, particularly if they are still severely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. This means that people will not be penalized for any delay as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, although interest will still apply on any unpaid tax. In addition, taxpayers should prepare now to meet their future tax obligations.

Lastly, HMRC will continue to provide support to taxpayers with tax debts and those who are concerned about their ability to meet their tax obligations, by offering them affordable and sustainable payment plans called time-to-pay arrangements. Nevertheless, HMRC is restarting its debt collection work, including insolvency actions against companies, which are now permitted after the moratorium on company winding-up petitions has been partly lifted.